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Lying between the Nathula and Jelepla Pass, Baba Mandir tells a story of the guardian of the place and Indian army soldiers posted there. Baba Mandir is a popular sightseeing place in the state of Sikkim and every day hundreds of tourists flock to the place to visit the shrine of ‘Baba’ Harbhajan Singh, a sepoy of the 23rd Punjab Regiment went missing while leading a pack of mules from his battalion stationed at Tukla to Deng Dhukla, both remote areas located in East Sikkim. A manhunt was launched and it took the army three days to find his body.
It is believed that it was his soul that led the soldiers towards the dead body. In the following time, many soldiers reported that they witnessed Baba coming into their lives and directing them to build a samadhi for him in his memory. A Samadhi was raised in his memory and believers say that even today Baba visits every night, puts on his uniform, and does his rounds. He is worshipped as a saint who grants boons and guards the lives of soldiers posted along the border. It is reported that Baba has pre-indicated the soldiers in the various fashions of a possible threat beforehand and alerted them for the future event.
The shrine building was known as ‘Old Baba Mandir’ but is less visited by tourists because of 50 stairs climb which many find difficult to do. For the ease of visitors, a new samadhi was constructed now known as ‘New Baba Mandir’.The shrine features three room structures. There is a large portrait of Baba in the central room, which has been placed with other Sikh Gurus and Hindu deities. At the right of the central room, there is the personal room of Baba. The room houses all essential household belongings, needed for daily livelihood, starting from clothes, slippers, shoes to a clean sleeping camp bed. Neatly ironed uniform and polished boots are also kept. The bedsheets are reportedly found crumbled each morning and the boots become muddy by evening. There is another small room, which is used as an office cum storeroom. The room is filled with unused slippers, water bottles, toothbrushes, and other items that are offered to Baba. The salary of Major Harbhajan Singh has not been stopped and he is also granted his annual leave and train ticket reservation to his hometown, Kapurthala.
People have a belief about Baba having healing properties and turns the water kept in his shrine as holy water which gets the property to heal an ailing patient. This belief and the Baba-devotee relationship are seen growing stronger with each passing day.
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